When you’re the 15th-overall pick and the first wide receiver selected in the NFL Draft, plenty of high expectations are placed on you even before you strap on an NFL helmet. In a city starved of having a legitimate winner on Sundays in the fall, those expectations are sometimes even bigger than they should be.
Maybe this is the guy that can help this Cleveland Browns offense score plenty of touchdowns. Maybe this is the guy that can become a star and help our quarterback actually remain the starter behind center for more than one year. Maybe this is the guy that can help turn this offense into something special. All of these types of questions and statements were made when the Browns selected Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman with the 15th pick back in 2016.
To say that he hasn’t met those expectations would be quite an understatement. Whether its due to a number of different injuries, not having a legitimate NFL quarterback tossing him the ball, being somewhat undersized to be a No. 1 wideout in the league, or something else, Coleman has had a tough first two seasons in the NFL.
With that said, he knows what’s on the line in Year 3, a year that he hopes can be one where he can prove to naysayers that he can be a solid No. 2 or 3 receiver at the highest level.
“It’s time to take a big step. I feel like it’s important,” Coleman told the media during the first weekend of training camp, according to clevelandbrowns.com’s Patrick Maks. “I’ve been hurt a lot, can’t control that. That’s really the main thing. Just haven’t played a full season,” he said. “It’s tough for guys to play half a season and come back. You know, I start off, have a great season, miss two months, start over from the beginning. I feel amazing right now.”
Coleman has plenty of potential if he can remain 100 percent, but that seems to be his biggest issue so far. During his first two injury-plagued years in the NFL, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound wideout has totaled just 56 receptions (131 targets) for 718 yards and five touchdowns in 19 games (18 starts). His injuries haven’t helped him, but neither have his quarterbacks. He has had five different quarterbacks attempt a pass to him through his first two years in the NFL.1
While his health is the biggest factor when it comes to his potential in 2018, new offensive coordinator Todd Haley could also help Coleman unlock parts of his game that the third-year wide receiver has yet to show in his first two years with the Browns. During his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Haley found plenty of ways to maximize the talent of guys such as Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and others. Whether it was his play-calling or different formations he used, the offensive play-caller seemed to do a great job of turning the Steelers offense into what it is today. While the talent they have helps, the Browns (and Coleman) are hoping that Haley can do the same in Cleveland.
“Coach Todd Haley, we talked about what he expects from me,” Coleman said, “and I’ll come out here and I’m going to practice hard each and every day.”
He may already be heading into his third season in the NFL, but it seems as though Coleman has begun to better himself off the field so that he can maximize the type of player he can be on the field as well. Whether it’s eating a healthier diet, one that consists of more fish and salads than fried foods, or doing the little things such as coming in early and outworking others, Coleman is doing everything he can to improve himself.
“He comes in early. He works hard. He’s taking notes,” said first-year wide receivers coach Adam Henry, who has earned a reputation as a no-nonsense, tough-love position coach. “He’s doing the little things, just learning the route techniques and things of that nature.”
With the addition of Jarvis Landry and rookie Antonio Callaway, Coleman has stiffer competition when it comes to both playing time and getting touches, but it also means that the third-year wideout will have plenty more open space when he is on the field as well. Opposing defenses will likely place most of their attention on Landry when he is on the field and if Josh Gordon can get back on the field, the two will not only make plays but free up plenty of the field for their teammates as well. The competition to get playing time will only make Coleman better, which can turn into plenty of good things in the long run.